Tuesday, January 19, 2016

In Your Time of Need, Turn to the Rosary for Help

More than ever, Catholics need to grab on to the Rosary and to pray with all our might.  Because we are faced with situations in our private lives and in the Church that are very serious and confusing.
Let us take comfort in the fact that, for centuries, Catholics have turned to the Rosary to overcome problems big and small.
It has won battles, fought off heresies and wrought countless miracles. A multitude of saints and popes have endorsed it. Pope Pius IX declares, "Among all the devotions approved by the Church,  none has been so favored by so many miracles as the Rosary devotion." 

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The Rosary’s efficacy proven in history
We need only to recall how Pope Pius V convoked the Christian world to pray the Rosary to ask God for victory in the crusade against the Ottoman Turks which culminated in a famous sea battle at Lepanto in 1571. And when the Turkish fleet were repulsed and vanquished, the elated pontiff established the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary on October 7 in thanksgiving to the Mother of God.
There is also the story of eight German Jesuits who lived just a kilometer away from ground zero when the A-bomb exploded in Hiroshima, Japan in August 1945. They attributed their miraculous survival to observing the message of Fatima by praying the Rosary daily.[1]
And how can one explain the sudden pullout of the Russians from Austria in 1948? A striking quandary to military experts and historians, but not to men of faith who know that 70,000 Austrians under the leadership of Father Petrus Pavlicek prayed daily rosaries to drive the militant forces of atheistic Marxism from their country.[2]

Never out of fashion
Nihil sub sole novum.( Ecclesiastes 1:10.) There is nothing new under the sun as the famous line goes. What more can be added to the glories of the Rosary?
This most revered of Catholic devotions never goes out of vogue. As one website reveals, personal testimonies show the power and relevance of the Rosary in our days. From something trivial as passing a driving test to escaping a horrendous vehicular accident unscathed, people keep having recourse to the Rosary.

Baghdad horror
A survivor’s gripping account gives yet again another convincing testimony of the power of the Rosary. A 25 year-old female student who lost her brother and her mother in the terrorists attack in the Chaldean Catholic Church in Baghdad on October 31, 2010 relates[3],

“Next to my brother, there was also a woman who was bleeding profusely.  She asked the terrorist: ‘Kill me, please, do not let me suffer any more.’ He answered her: "No, suffer; that way you will experience hell on earth and after your death."  And he repeated: "You are infidels, Allah ou akbar!"   And I, then, prayed the rosary, with my head bent down towards the floor.  A terrorist came and asked me: "What are you praying?  What do you venerate?  Do you venerate Christ?"  And then, some grenades exploded and we truly had the impression that the church was going to collapse on us.  I myself absolutely did not think that I would survive.  I prayed as if I was about to die.  It is Our Mother who saved us.”

Needed more than ever in our times
Amid that horrific bedlam and terrible carnage, the student courageously hung on to her rosary and prayed even as the Islamic terrorist accosted her. By the grace of God, she was spared from death.
That was chaos on a smaller scale. On a grander scale we find ourselves amid the turmoil and moral corruption of our times, mankind continues to flaunt the sins of abortion, homosexuality, pornography, drug abuse and many more grave offenses against God with wanton abandon.
Our Lady gave her maternal warnings at Fatima. And like a true mother, she also gave the solution. She asked for the daily recitation of the Rosary and requested the establishment of the devotion to Her Immaculate Heart as well as the Five First Saturday devotion. Sadly her maternal warnings remain largely unheeded.

Message of Hope
Our Lady also assured us that “In the end, my immaculate Heart will triumph.” But at a time when all seems lost humanly speaking, when events turn for the worst, we must not give in to the temptation that her promises are empty. We must confide in her and reject that temptation with all our hearts and minds.
We do have a powerful weapon in the Rosary. Let us cling to it and ask our heavenly Mother to intercede for us and intervene for the greater glory of God. Historical antecedents show how the Rosary gave victory to those who prayed it assiduously with faith. Let us expect no less during our tumultuous times. Let us pray the Rosary daily and look forward to a glorious Catholic Civilization in the Reign of Mary as St. Louis Grignion de Montfort prophesied.

"Give me an army saying the Rosary and I will conquer the world." Pope Pius IX


[1] Donal Anthony Foley, “The Priests Who Survived The Atomic Bomb,” http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/features/2010/08/05/the-priests-who-survived-the-atomic-bomb/ [back to text]
[2] Charles E. Schaffer, “Expelled By The Rosary,”  https://americaneedsfatima.org/The-Holy-Rosary/expelled-by-the-rosary.html [back to text]
[3]Iraq: A survivor of the attack in Baghdad tells her story, DICI – Documentation Information Catholiques Internationales, http://www.dici.org/en/news/iraq-a-survivor-of-the-attack-in-baghdad-tells-her-story/ [back to text]

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Monday, January 11, 2016

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The Sins That Cause Most Souls to go to Hell

Mother Godinho, who directed the Lisbon Orphanage where Blessed Jacinta Marto stayed shortly before dying at the hospital, carefully wrote down the holy girl’s words.
Two of her notes are outstandingly important today.
The First says, “The sins (that) cause most souls to go to hell are the sins of the flesh.”
With a directly supernatural illumination, that innocent, barely ten year-old girl repeats what Saint Alphonsus Liguori says – sins against chastity “fill hell with souls.”
When Mother Godinho asked Jacinta if she understood what it meant to be pure she answered, “I do. To be pure in body is to keep chastity. To be pure in soul is not to commit sins, not to look at what one should not see…” 
The second, rather prophetic statement is “Fashions that will greatly offend Our Lord will appear.”
It is good to recall that modesty is the outer defense of chastity, the walls defending the castle, as well as the gardens adorning the palace.
The correct question, when it comes to fashion, is not what is the extreme limit at which one is allowed to arrive, but how can one’s attire more clearly manifest love of modesty and the virtue of purity.

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*Adapted from Fatima: A Message More Urgent Than Ever (The American TFP, Spring Grove, Pa., 2004), 98–99

St. Theodosius the Cenobiarch

Theodosius was born in Garissus, Cappadocia in 423. He took to the road as a pilgrim, and, in his travels visited the famous St. Simeon the Stylite on his pillar.

Eventually, he retired as a hermit to a cave on a mountain near Bethlehem, but his sanctity and miracles attracted many who wished to serve God under his direction. A spacious monastery was built on a place called Cathismus, which became a haven of saints in the desert.

Persecuted by Emperor Anastasius who favored the Eutychian heresy, Theodosius traveled extensively through Palestine exhorting the faithful to remain strong in the faith of the four general councils. The Emperor ordered the saint’s banishment, which was executed, but Theodosius died soon after in 529 at the advanced age of one hundred and five.

His funeral was honored by miracles, and he was buried in his first cell, called the Cave of the Magi, because the wise men who visited the Infant Christ were said to have lodged in it.

Quote of the Day

We must not stop doing good
even if it scandalizes the Pharisees.

St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Quote of the Day

When the devil
wishes to make himself master of a soul, he
seeks to make it give up devotion to Mary.

St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

St. Peter Orseolo

St. Peter Orseolo’s is an unusual life. He was born in 928 of a prominent Venetian family. At twenty he was appointed to the command of the city’s fleet and defeated the Dalmatian pirates who infested the Adriatic Sea.

In 976 there was a revolution in Venice that ended with the violent death of Doge Peter Candiani IV and the partial burning of the city. Although there are allegations that Orseolo was involved in the popular outbreak, the testimonies are inconclusive.

Peter Orseolo was elected doge in place of Candiani and, reputedly, ruled with energy and tact. Still, one night in 978, he secretly left Venice and sought admittance to the Benedictine Abbey of Cuxa, in Rousillon, on the border of France and Spain. Though married for thirty-two years and having an only son who was destined to become one of the greatest Venetian doges, there is early evidence that Peter and his wife had lived as brother and sister since their son’s birth.  As early as 968 there is also evidence that he wished to become a monk.

At Cuxa, Peter Orseolo led a life of the strictest asceticism, and then wishing for an even greater solitude, built a hermitage for himself. He died in 987 and many miracles were said to have taken place at his tomb.

Five Marks of Authentic Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary

After reading 8 False Types of Piety And How to Avoid Them we shall now briefly describe what true devotion is.

True Devotion is:
1.    Interior
2.    Trustful
3.    Holy
4.    Constant
5.    Disinterested

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First:  true devotion to our Lady is interior, that is, it comes from within the mind and the heart and follows from the esteem in which we hold her, the high regard we have for her greatness, and the love we bear her.

Second:  it is trustful, that is to say, it fills us with confidence in the Blessed Virgin, the confidence that a child has for its loving Mother. It prompts us to go to her in every need of body and soul with great simplicity, trust and affection. We implore our Mother's help always, everywhere, and for everything. We pray to her to be enlightened in our doubts, to be put back on the right path when we go astray, to be protected when we are tempted, to be strengthened when we are weakening, to be lifted up when we fall into sin, to be encouraged when we are losing heart, to be rid of our scruples, to be consoled in the trials, crosses and disappointments of life. Finally, in all our afflictions of body and soul, we naturally turn to Mary for help, with never a fear of importuning her or displeasing our Lord.

Third:  true devotion to our Lady is holy, that is, it leads us to avoid sin and to imitate the virtues of Mary. Her ten principal virtues are: deep humility, lively faith, blind obedience, unceasing prayer, constant self-denial, surpassing purity, ardent love, heroic patience, angelic kindness, and heavenly wisdom.

Fourth:  true devotion to our Lady is constant. It strengthens us in our desire to do good and prevents us from giving up our devotional practices too easily. It gives us the courage to oppose the fashions and maxims of the world, the vexations and unruly inclinations of the flesh and the temptations of the devil. Thus a person truly devoted to our Blessed Lady is not changeable, fretful, scrupulous or timid. We do not say however that such a person never sins or that his sensible feelings of devotion never change. When he has fallen, he stretches out his hand to his Blessed Mother and rises again. If he loses all taste and feeling for devotion, he is not at all upset because a good and faithful servant of Mary is guided in his life by faith in Jesus and Mary, and not by feelings.

Fifth:  true devotion to Mary is disinterested.  It inspires us to seek God alone in his Blessed Mother and not ourselves. The true subject of Mary does not serve his illustrious Queen for selfish gain. He does not serve her for temporal or eternal well-being but simply and solely because she has the right to be served and God alone in her. He loves her not so much because she is good to him or because he expects something from her, but simply because she is lovable. That is why he loves and serves her just as faithfully in weariness and dryness of soul as in sweet and sensible fervor. He loves her as much on Calvary as at Cana. How pleasing and precious in the sight of God and his holy Mother must these servants of Mary be, who serve her without any self-seeking. How rare they are nowadays! It is to increase their number that I have taken up my pen to write down what I have been teaching with success both publicly and in private in my missions for many years.

I have already said many things about the Blessed Virgin and, as I am trying to fashion a true servant of Mary and a true disciple of Jesus, I have still a great deal to say, although through ignorance, inability, and lack of time, I shall leave infinitely more unsaid.
But my labor will be well rewarded if this little book falls into the hands of a noble soul, a child of God and of Mary, born not of blood nor the will of the flesh nor of the will of man. My time will be well spent if, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, after having read this book he is convinced of the supreme value of the solid devotion to Mary I am about to describe. If I thought that my guilty blood could help the reader to accept in his heart the truths that I set down in honor of my dear Mother and Queen, I, her most unworthy child and slave, would use it instead of ink to write these words. I would hope to find faithful souls who, by their perseverance in the devotion I teach, will repay her for the loss she has suffered through my ingratitude and infidelity.
I feel more than ever inspired to believe and expect the complete fulfillment of the desire that is deeply engraved on my heart and what I have prayed to God for over many years, namely, that in the near or distant future the Blessed Virgin will have more children, servants and slaves of love than ever before, and that through them Jesus, my dear Lord, will reign more than ever in the hearts of men.
I clearly foresee that raging beasts will come in fury to tear to pieces with their diabolical teeth this little book and the one the Holy Spirit made use of to write it, or they will cause it at least to lie hidden in the darkness and silence of a chest and so prevent it from seeing the light of day. They will even attack and persecute those who read it and put into practice what it contains. But no matter! So much the better! It even gives me encouragement to hope for great success at the prospect of a mighty legion of brave and valiant soldiers of Jesus and Mary, both men and women, who will fight the devil, the world, and corrupt nature in the perilous times that are sure to come.

"Let the reader understand. Let him accept this teaching who can."

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Monday, January 4, 2016

Prayer to the Immaculate Conception

Allow me to praise Thee, O most holy Virgin Mary, with my personal commitment and sacrifice.
Allow me to live, work, suffer, be consumed and die for Thee, just for Thee.
Allow me to bring the whole world to Thee.
Allow me to contribute to your ever-greater exaltation, to Thine greatest possible exaltation.
Allow me to give Thee such glory that no one else has ever given up to now.
Allow others to surpass me in zeal for Thine exaltation and me to surpass them, so that by means of such noble rivalry, your glory may increase ever more profoundly, ever more rapidly, ever more intensely as He Who has exalted Thee so indescribably, above all other beings Himself desires.   Amen
By Saint Maximilian Mary Kolbe

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Saturday, January 2, 2016

Sts. Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen

On January 2, the Church honors Sts. Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, two friends who were pillars of orthodoxy during a period of chaos and confusion, namely the time in which the Church faced the far-reaching heresy of Arianism, which denied the divinity of Christ – an ordeal the Church has never forgotten. These two friends steered the barc of St. Peter safely through the dangerous and stormy seas of heresy.
St. Basil was born in Caesarea in Cappadocia - today, southeastern Turkey - in 329 A.D. of a family of saints. His grandfather died a martyr in the Roman persecution, and his grandmother, mother, sister and two brothers are all canonized saints.

Basil was becoming famous as a teacher when he decided to leave the world. He lived for a while as a hermit then founded what was probably the first monastery in Asia Minor. His monastic principles have influenced Eastern monasticism to this day. He was a gifted orator, and his writings place him among the great teachers of the Church.

In 370 he was made Bishop of Caesarea. He opposed the Emperor Valens when the latter pressured him to remain silent and admit heretics to Holy Communion. In the end, the Emperor backed down. When the great St. Athanasius died, the mantle of defender of the faith against Arianism fell to Basil. He was misunderstood, misinterpreted, accused of ambition and heresy. Seventy-two years after his death, the Council of Chalcedon called him “the great Basil, minister of grace who has expounded the truth to the whole earth.” He died on January 1, 379.

St. Gregory Nazianzen was born in 330 and received baptism at the age of thirty. For a while he joined St. Basil as a hermit, and was later ordained to the priesthood. Consecrated Bishop of Constantinople in 381, he presided over the Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople which defined the Nicene Creed, and which is recited every Sunday throughout the Catholic Church.

With St. Basil, he valiantly opposed Arianism and rebuilt the Faith in Constantinople at the cost of much personal persecution. He is famous for his sermons on the Holy Trinity. St. Gregory’s last days were spent in austerity and solitude. He died on January 25, in the year 389 or 390.

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Quote of the Day

These three things God requires of all the Baptized:
right faith in the heart,
truth on the tongue,
temperance in the body.

St. Gregory Nazianzen

Today is First Saturday


The Five First Saturdays devotion is one of the principal points of the Fatima message. It centers on the urgent need for mankind to offer reparation and expiate for the many injuries that the Immaculate Heart of Mary suffers from the hands of both impious and indifferent men.

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During the third apparition on July 13, 1917, Our Lady revealed that she would come to ask for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart and for the Communion of Reparation of the Five First Saturdays. Consequently, she asked for the devotion in 1925 and the consecration in 1929.
While staying at the House of the Dorothean Sister in Pontevedra, Portugal, Sister Lucia received a vision on December 10, 1925 where the Blessed Mother appeared alongside a Boy who stood over a luminous cloud. Our Lady rested one hand on the Boy’s shoulder while she held on the other hand a heart pierced with thorns around it.
Sister Lucia heard the Boy say, "Have pity on the Heart of your Most Holy Mother which is covered with thorns with which ingrate men pierce it at every moment with no one to make an act of reparation to pull them out."
Our Lady expressed her request in the following words,
"See, my daughter, My Heart surrounded with thorns with which ingrates pierce me at every moment with blasphemies and ingratitude. You, at least, make sure to console me and announce that all those who for five months, on the first Saturdays, go to confession, receive Communion, say five decades of the Rosary and keep me company for 15 minutes meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary, with the purpose of making reparation to Me, I promise to assist them at the hour of death with all the graces necessary for the salvation of their souls."
A few days afterward, Sister Lucia detailed this vision in a letter addressed to Monsignor Manuel Pereira Lopes, her confessor when she resided in the Asylum of Vilar in the city of Oporto, Portugal.

Why Five Saturdays?     
Sister Lucia’s confessor questioned her about the reason for the five Saturdays asking why not seven or nine. She answered him in a letter dated June 12, 1930. In it she related about a vision she had of Our Lord while staying in the convent chapel part of the night of the twenty-ninth to the thirtieth of the month of May, 1930. The reasons Our Lord gave were as follows:
The five first Saturdays correspond to the five kinds of offenses and blasphemies committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. They are:
  a.    Blasphemies against the Immaculate Conception
  b.    Blasphemies against her virginity
  c.    Blasphemies against her divine maternity, at the same time the refusal to accept her as the Mother of all men
  d.    Instilling , indifference, scorn and even hatred towards this Immaculate Mother in the hearts of children
  e.    Direct insults against Her sacred images
Let us keep the above reasons firmly in our minds. Devotions have intentions attached to them and knowing them adds merit and weight to the practice.

Modifications to the Five First Saturdays Devotion to facilitate its observation
The original request of Our Lady asks one to confess and receive Communion on five consecutive first Saturdays; to say five decades of the Rosary; to meditate during 15 minutes on the mysteries of the Rosary for the purpose of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in reparation for the sins of men.
In subsequent private visions and apparitions however, Sister Lucia presented to Our Lord the difficulties that devotees encountered in fulfilling some conditions. With loving condescension and solicitude, Our Lord deigned to relax the rules to make this devotion easy to observe:
  • Confession may be done on other days other than the First Saturdays so long as one receives Our Lord worthily and has the intention of making reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
  • Even if one forgets to make the intention, it may be done on the next confession, taking advantage of the first occasion to go to confession.
  • Sister Lucia also clarified that it is not necessary to meditate on ALL mysteries of the Rosary on each First Saturdays. One or several suffice.
With much latitude granted by Our Lord Himself, there is no reason for the faithful to hesitate or delay this pious practice in the spirit of reparation which the Immaculate Heart of Mary urgently asks.

This devotion is so necessary in our days
The culture of vice and sin remains unabated even as one reads this. Abortion, blasphemy, drug abuse, pornography, divorce and bad marriages, religious indifference, the advances of the homosexual agenda and others are just some of society’s many plagues that cut deeply into the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
We must console Our Lady amidst all these insults and injuries to her and her Divine Son. She asks for reparation, she pleads for our prayers, she hopes for our amendment of life. Let us listen to her maternal pleas and atone for the ingratitude of men.
The First Five Saturdays devotion stimulates the spirit of reparation; it instills a tender love for the Holy Sacraments of Confession and the Blessed Eucharist. It nurtures a holy affection for the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Rosary. Above all, it is an excellent means to maintain one in the state of grace while immersed in the daily spiritual battles and prosaic existence in the neo-pagan world that we live in.
Let us not delay in observing this devotion for it too gives us hope for eternal salvation.

Solimeo, Luiz Sergio, Fatima, A Message More Urgent than Ever 
(Spring Grove, PA: The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property-TFP, 2008.)
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